Ursodeoxycholic acid increases low-density lipoprotein binding, uptake and degradation in isolated hamster hepatocytes

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Biochemical Journal








Ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA), in contrast to both chenodeoxycholic acid (CDCA), its 7α-epimer, and lithocholic acid, enhanced receptor-dependent low-density lipoprotein (LDL) uptake and degradation in isolated hamster hepatocytes. The increase in cell-associated LDL was time- and concentration-dependent, with a maximum effect observed at approx. 60 min with 1mM-UDCA. This increase was not associated with a detergent effect of UDCA, as no significant modifications were observed either in the cellular release of lactate dehydrogenase or in Trypan Blue exclusion. The effect of UDCA was not due to a modification of the LDL particle, but rather was receptor-related. UDCA (1mM) maximally increased the number of 125I-LDL-binding sites (B(max)) by 35%, from 176 to 240ng/mg of protein, without a significant modification of the binding affinity. Furthermore, following proteolytic degradation of the LDL receptor with Pronase, specific LDL binding decreased to the level of non-specific binding, and the effect of UDCA was abolished. Conversely, the trihydroxy 7β-hydroxy bile acid ursocholic acid and its 7α-epimer, cholic acid, induced a significant decrease in LDL binding by approx. 15%. The C23 analogue of UDCA (nor-UDCA) and CDCA did not affect LDL binding. On the other hand, UDCA conjugated with either glycine (GUDCA) or taurine (TUDCA), increased LDL binding to the same extent as did the free bile acid. The half maximum time (t( 1/2 )) to reach the full effect was 1-2 min for UDCA and TUDCA, while GUDCA had a much slower t( 1/2 ) of 8.3 min. Ketoconazole (50μM), an antifungal agent, increased LDL binding, but this effect was not additive when tested in the presence of 0.7mM-UDCA. The results of the studies indicate that, in isolated hamster hepatocytes, the UDCA-induced increase in receptor-dependent LDL binding and uptake represents a direct effect of this bile acid. The action of the bile acid is closely related to its specific structural conformation, since UDCA and its conjugates are the only bile acids shown to express this ability thus far. However, certain agents other than bile acids, such as ketoconazole, have a similar effect. Finally, the studies suggest that the recruitment of LDL receptors from a latent pool in the hepatocellular membrane may be the mechanism by which UDCA exerts its direct effect.

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